I overheard a woman in her late-40′s/early 50′s seated behind me yammering on with friends on an Amtrak train last Sunday. Unaware of her volume, it was impossible to focus on anything else but their recap of the weekend in NYC. She suddenly made a frantic call on her cell phone.
“I just got your text, what is happening with Daddy?”
(I presumed she was speaking to her kid.)
“When was he brought to the hospital? Oh my god, oh my god!”
Pause for caller response
“Pneumonia!? … What do you mean it doesn’t look good!? Oh, my god. I can get there by 7.”
Pause for epiphany
“Wait a second, do you mean dad or grandpa?”
“Oh, it’s only grandpa!” with inappropriate relief, “Whew! Ha! Okay. Well, let me know what happens!”
Hangs up, chuckles some more over the mix-up and returns to the unnecessarily loud conversation with her friends
I was aghast yet still in the dark as to the familial hierarchy here. Sure, maybe “Grandpa” is in prison or he beat her as a child and she can’t wait to put him in the ground, who knows? But the conversation seemed incongruous. I really loved my Grandpa. He put together my tricycle, albeit with many leftover parts; he taught me how the stock market works, how to tie a tie, told stories about the War and Normandy, and loved my grandmother until the moment he died. What has happened to people in this country and their relationships with their families?
She and her noisy friends got off at New Haven laughing the whole way and I wondered how drunk she’d get at this poor man’s funeral.